Foster and Partners‘ revised design for a flagship Melbourne Apple store in Federation Square has been slammed by planning officers. In a recent report, City of Melbourne officers expressed great concerns about the designs. Significantly, the officers pointed to the lack of analysis of context and neighbouring buildings.
Originally designed by Lab Architecture Studio and Bates Smart Apple, the Apple store courted controversy from its conception. Initially, the decision to demolish Yarra building catalysed several petitions against Apple -on Change.org, with approximately 100,000 signatures in total. Karres and Brands, the original landscape architect for Federation Square, criticised the design. They claimed the plans prioritised “brand image” over respect for the city.Negative backlash led to several workshops between Fed Square Management, the Victorian Government, the City of Melbourne and Apple. The collaborative process featured a set of guidelines, taking into account non-orthogonal planning, geometry, bespoke materiality and solar energy. In the renewed designs, the roof allowed for solar power and a new solar shading design feature heightened the store’s energy efficiency and sustainability. However, the renewed designs continued to receive scathing feedback.
“The submission drawings lack sufficient analysis of the context, including how the proposed building relates to its neighbouring buildings in terms of location, scale, and architectural resolution,” the report reads. Officer point to the low quality public space, the loss of definition to the plaza and the renderings.
“This architectural expression is at odds with the established Federation Square character of geometric patterns and irregular shapes and consequently draws the eye to the proposal, giving it a visual significance and prominence that does not align with its retail rather than civic use.”